The Board of Aldermen voted overwhelmingly, on Monday night, in favor of creating new zoning district for the Lower Broadway neighborhood and then quickly followed that decision with two votes that established the need for and then created a new Everett Redevelopment Authority.
The votes help to put in place the needed planning and development processes that should allow the proposed Wynn resort casino in Everett, should that developer be granted the lone casino license for the eastern part of the state.
Following the meeting, an obviously pleased Mayor Carlo DeMaria said that he was happy for what the votes could mean to the city’s future.
“I’m just excited, because we took a step closer to being a united city,” said the Mayor. “When you think that 86 percent of the (voters) came out to vote in favor of this casino proposal on a hot Saturday night, this action means that the city government is working with them.”
The votes by the Aldermen were preceded by an hour long Joint Convention and public hearing on the proposed Lower Broadway Zoning District, during which representatives from the city administration were joined by Chris Gordon, the Development Manager representing Wynn Developments and approximately 50-60 local residents who all seemed to be on hand to voice their support of both the new zoning and the redevelopment authority.
The votes were also taken just two weeks after Aldermen tabled motions creating on the redevelopment authority, because of questions they had about the process and the state law governing redevelopment authorities.
During the Joint Convention, Planning and Development Director James Errickson explained that the city was proposing the new zoning, to ensure protections for existing property owners in the existing commercial/industrial zone. His presentation was echoed in comments made by the Mayor following the votes.
“With the new zoning, we’re going to be able to protect the neighborhood from any future industrial uses that would be overbearing,” said Mayor DeMaria. “Adopting the new zoning was as huge as voting to create the redevelopment authority.”
The mayor also referenced the extensive public processes that developers will now have to submit to in order to change uses on any property in the new Lower Broadway District.
As an example of this, Errickson explained that if an owner of a commercial or industrial site in the district wants to maintain their existing use and site, they can do so, in perpetuity. However, if a property owner wishes to improve their site or change a use to a more intensive use, they owner and developer will now be subject to a public permitting process that will allow site plan review and other protections for the surrounding neighborhood.
The new zoning and redevelopment authority will still have to be approved on second votes in both chambers of the city council. The Common Council had previously approved the votes to establish and create Redevelopment Authority during its first meeting in October.